Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, votes aye during the one-day virtual session of the 66th Wyoming Legislature Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, inside the Senate chamber of the state Capitol. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – A right-wing state lawmaker announced his intention Wednesday to run against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the 2022 primary election, a week after the state’s representative made national headlines – and drew some local ire – by voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, who was first elected to the Legislature in 2016, announced his plan to run in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

“Wyoming was President Trump’s best state both times he ran,” Bouchard said in the statement. “That’s because Wyoming voters are strong conservatives who want our leaders to stand up for America, defend our freedoms, fight for our way of life and always put working people first, as President Trump did.

“Liz Cheney’s long-time opposition to President Trump and her most recent vote for impeachment shows just how out of touch she is with Wyoming,” the statement continues. “Wyoming taxpayers need a voice in Congress who will stand up to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and not give them cover. That’s why I’m running for Congress.”

(Fact check: Cheney voted in support of Trump’s policies 93% of the time during her first two terms, according to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight.)

Bouchard’s announcement came a week after Cheney and nine other Republicans voted with House Democrats to impeach Trump for his role in inciting a riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Last week, Cheney told reporters the events of that day were “an attack on the very heart of our republic,” adding that some votes should never be partisan.

A spokesman for Cheney declined to comment on Bouchard’s announced bid Wednesday.

Bouchard, who founded the gun rights group Wyoming Gun Owners prior to assuming office, has developed a reputation as one of the most hardline conservative members of the Wyoming Senate. The Laramie County lawmaker spoke at two protests at the Wyoming State Capitol in recent weeks, one in opposition to the statewide public health orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and another decrying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

While Bouchard has been the sole state lawmaker to announce a run against Cheney, he has not been the only member of the state Legislature to criticize Cheney’s impeachment vote. A few other conservative legislators, including Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, and Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, have publicly said they believe Cheney should resign.

The Wyoming Republican Party has also been critical of Cheney in recent days, issuing a statement last week summarizing feedback party officials heard from residents across the state in response to her impeachment vote.

“We, as a Party, respect our elected officials and assume that they will respect and represent their constituents,” reads the party’s statement. “We are receiving the message loud and clear that what happened yesterday is a true travesty for Wyoming and the country.”

Despite the criticisms of Cheney, which have also manifested in an online petition with more than 30,000 signatures, it remains to be seen whether the events of this month will have any effect on Cheney’s campaign in 2022. Cheney handily won her primary races in 2018 and 2020, with about 50,000 more votes than her second-place Republican challengers. In her closest primary contest, during her first race for the U.S. House seat in 2016, she defeated former state Sen. Leland Christensen by roughly 15,000 votes.

Bouchard, who represents much of eastern Laramie County, narrowly won his first election to the Wyoming Senate in 2016. He then won reelection last November to another four-year term in the state Senate, defeating Democrat Britney Wallesch by roughly 3,000 votes.

Bouchard had not responded to a WTE request for additional comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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